Most books on drama are about plays and playwrights. This is a book about theatre and, though the words 'drama' (from the Greek drama, 'something done') and 'theatre' (from theatron, 'a seeing-place' and theama, 'a show') both imply a performance dimension, it is the circumstances of presentation rather than the material that was presented that serve as its focus. Tragedy and comedy are part of a big-city art, their history defined for the most part by what happened in the capitals to which major artists have always tended to gravitate; in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Marlowe from Canterbury, Shakespeare from Stratford, Beaumont from Leicestershire, Fletcher from Sussex and Wycherley from Shrewsbury, all naturally heading for London; Lully from Florence to Paris; Monteverdi from Cremona to Venice; modern American playwrights to New York or Los Angeles.
Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and Menander were all Athenian bred, but of the Latin playwrights whose work has survived, Plautus was a native of Umbria, Terence born in Africa and Seneca in Spain. They all ended up living in Rome. Herodas, the writer of Greek 'mimes', a few of which have survived in written form, is the exception, living and working in Alexandria, but in the third century BC, when Herodas flourished, Alexandria was as much a cultural centre as was Athens or Rome.
The justification for this second Companion, following the earlier Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy, edited by Patricia Easterling (1997), is only in part that this new one looks at comedy as well as tragedy, the Roman world as well as the Greek. More important is an acknowledgment that, however much the surviving written playtexts became the foundation of the western repertoire, they form only one element of a broad theatrical tradition.